Did you know most writers starting out have a hard time finishing their work simply because they critique their first draft into oblivion? No, just me? Well damn.
This annoying habit of editing while I write has taken a LONG time to break, and no, I’m not cured. I do catch myself from time to time critiquing the previous session’s words but initially, what I found worked best to break the cycle was to take temptation out of the equation. I would open up a new word document, write the words, chapter, or scene I wanted to get down and simply copy and paste it into my saved version.
Yes, it’s choppy, terrible, and absolutely a disaster.
But guess what? I actually finished piecing that story together and once I sit down to edit it, it’s going to be AMAZING! Once I get through the mud, of course. Or in need of a massive rewrite, but we’ll tackle that bridge when we get there, right?
I’ve learned the hard way that there is no one way to write. There isn’t even a single way to get it wrong, unless you aren’t writing, in which case, I suppose, wouldn’t be accomplishing the goal, now would it? But there are a million ways to get it right and you only have to have the confidence in yourself that you can accomplish whatever you put your mind to. I have six books written (in need of some heavy editing) and it’s taken nearly a decade for me to finally put down the pen, so to speak, and say enough writing and holding it hostage out of fear of rejection or failure.
I only fail if I keep them to myself. And while I may not make millions or even sell 50 copies, to be able to say I have published a book is a lifelong dream of mine and it’s not fair to myself to dismiss that just because I’m afraid what the world may or may not think of it. I’m extremely proud of my ideas, and it’s about time I show that.
So whether your first draft is a mythical unicorn of perfection (please, share your secrets!) or a major dump fest like mine, be proud of it! Because you’ve done what so many others have struggled to do before you. Finish it. The first draft is meant to be awful and make you question every decision you’ve ever made. It’s designed to have you question what on Earth you were thinking when you wrote that scene or invented that plot twist. Honestly, I’ve grown to love and hate my first drafts. The ones I’ve been reading through lately really make me question my mindset but they also offer some humor because there are some arcs that have surfaced that I never had in my outlines and I now know I want to work them more effectively into the story. First drafts are valuable, in their own special way, but we need to finish them! Because at the end of the day, we certainly can’t go any further in our careers with half finished drafts!
Tell me, writing community, what is one piece of advice you’ve learned that’s helped you finish those dreaded first drafts? Do you edit while you write? How did you break that habit. Drop your comments below, I want to know!
All my love,